UNION, KY (FOX19) - A Union, Kentucky woman is in the middle of fighting cancer, but a secret someone is making her family’s dark cloud feel a little brighter by repeatedly surprising her family, specifically her five-year-old son.
Dana Dirkes said her world was turned upside down in July when she was given a tough diagnosis.
“I had a cough. I just thought I was going to the doctor for a cold," said Dana.
Doctors, Dana said, told her that she has cancer - Diffuse Large B Cell Lymphoma.
“So shocking, and just overwhelming, and I just cried every day because I couldn’t believe I had cancer at 34," said Dana.
As a wife and as a mother of two boys, a five-month-old and a five-year-old, adjusting to a “new normal” has not been easy.
When a surprise for their oldest son Quin showed up on their mailbox, Dana and her husband Michael were not just shocked, they were stunned.
Dana was starting her first round of chemotherapy, beginning a five day hospital stay, when she found out about it.
“They called me and said there’s a Batman balloon on the mailbox with a note for Quin from the ‘Balloon Bopper,’" said Dana.
Dana and Michael were incredibly touched by the anonymous act.
“When you get diagnosed with cancer, you immediately think of your kids, that’s so scary," said Dana. "To know that someone cares them about them enough that they’re just doing this to make them happy.”
What they thought was a one time thing, turned into a two time thing, then a three time thing, and so on.
Dana said they now have 21 balloons. Each one is different. Some came coupled with a note, while others included a toy or a treat.
“Thank you so much from the bottom of my heart," said Dana. "It’s been wonderful.”
It has become a game of “whodunit” for the whole family.
“How amazing is it that they’re doing this and not asking for any credit," said Michael.
Inspired by the thoughtfulness and generosity, Dana and Michael want to pay it forward. They are working on starting their own non-profit made up of volunteer, anonymous “balloon boppers.”
They hope to meet whoever tied the first message to their mailbox, so that person can help them spread the love, one balloon, one child, at a time.
"It has made such a difference and has been such a bright spot during my treatment, I just want to do that for other families so they have something to look forward to," said Dana.
Dana said that, fingers crossed, her chemotherapy treatments should be complete, which means they are hoping to start “balloon bopping” other families as soon as next week.
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There is also a card box fundraiser underway to raise money for the project. To order a card box, visit this website.
Dana said they are hoping to collect enough donations to cover the cost of “balloon bopping” for an entire year.